Tips for Choosing an Auto Repair Shop

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With so many motor vehicles around these days one would have thought it would be a simple task to find an auto repair shop. In fact finding an auto repair shop is not so hard; the problem is finding a good one. What constitutes a good auto repair shop depends on a combination of factors among which are prices, customer service and the quality of the work. Here are some tips, which should prove helpful if you are looking for a good auto repair shop.

It is advised that you don’t wait until you actually need a mechanic to start looking for one. When the need for the services of a mechanic arises you should already have an auto repair shop in mind. You will find them in the phone book but looking at an ad and speaking to them on the phone will hardly be a good test of their competence. A better method is to ask around. Co-workers, neighbors and relatives may be able to recommend auto repair shops they have had first hand experience with. They may also tell you which ones to avoid.

You will need to do some detective work as well. A good idea would be to have a checklist of things to check out. Take note of the customer service, how they deal with another customer who may have a grouse about a completed job can be an eye-opener. Note if they seem organized and professional. This may not be easy as the garage area is often restricted to staff only. Enquire about prices if they are not displayed. Do they charge a flat fee or do they charge by the hour? Make a comparison with other auto repair shops. Find out if the auto repair shop honors warranties and if they have warranty programs of their own. Check to see if the mechanics are certified and if they belong to any industry organizations. This could be an indication of their level of competence. Certificates may be displayed but then again they could be fraudulent. Make sure that the facility is secure in case you have to leave the vehicle overnight. Perhaps it would be a good idea to verify if permits and insurance are up to date too.

After investigations and enquiries on your part you should still err on the side of caution. Give them a test, a small repair job, and evaluate their performance. If you are satisfied with the results then you can trust them with more serious car issues.

Finding a reliable and trustworthy auto repair shop is important if you own a motor vehicle. Getting to know the people and building a good relationship there is key, as that would lessen the chances of you being ripped off by unscrupulous people. After all, you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of overpriced jobs and unnecessary repairs. For auto repair coupons be sure to visit Car-X Automotive Services.

Tips for Car Engine Maintenance

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After you have spent a tidy sum on a car purchase, it makes sense to protect that investment by maintaining your car through regular check ups as prescribed by the manufacturer. If you become aware of any knocking, grinding or other noises emanating from your car, or if your car does not seem to have its usual power, then a further investigation into the cause is in order.

When you start the engine, it should start with no delay. The idling engine should be continuous and smooth, without any hiccups. Check your tailpipe to ensure that there are no black smoke or liquid emissions. Any moisture you see within the engine is most likely indicative of a leak.

Check the fan, timing and other belts to make sure that they are not cracked and brittle. If they are, get them changed out. Also, look at the fuel and air filters and make sure that they are clean and free of solid deposits, and examine the contacts on spark plugs.

If your engine oil level is insufficient, you risk ruining your entire engine. If you find that you have to top up oil frequently, then most likely there are gaskets that are faulty and need replacing. The marker on the dipstick will tell you the level of oil in the engine. Make sure that the oil is not above the “full” mark, nor close to the “empty” marker. Engine oil should not be dark brown or opaque, nor should it appear that it contains water.

Ensure that the level of coolant in the radiator is sufficient. Note, however, that this should not be done when the engine is already heated as you risk getting burned. The radiator fan should be in good working order to cool the engine sufficiently. The radiator hoses should be free of cracks and tears. Your temperature gauge should lie just below the mid-point between “Hot” and “Cold”: anytime the gauge moves colder to the “Hot” marker, immediately switch off your engine, let it cool for at least 20 minutes, and begin your investigation into the temperature rise.

Check the oil pressure: when you turn the starter, the oil indicator light should not stay on for longer than two seconds; if it does, turn off your engine directly and check the oil filter and engine oil levels.

If you find that the gears do not engage smoothly from first to second, second to Drive, and so on, check transmission fluid for sufficiency and efficacy.

 

What To Do If Your “Check Engine” Light Turns On


We all know how pesky the Check Engine light on your dashboard can be. It is inconvenient and troublesome to take your car in to get this checked. There are a few common triggers for the Check Engine light that all drivers should be aware of. Check Engine lights can be complicated to repair – knowing how they work and what to check for will help you take the best care of your vehicle, as well as avoid unnecessary trips to an auto mechanic.

Understanding the Check Engine light
This light serves as a warning indicator. It is a response of your vehicle’s computer to changes or hindrances in the emission control system. When the light comes on, it is a result of one of many trouble codes stored in the system. These trouble codes are what auto mechanics use to determine the cause of the light.

Every U.S.–manufactured vehicle must pass a Federal Test Procedure – an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) test, which sets allowable limits of deterioration of your emission control system. The Check Engine light was created to indicate that your emission control system is failing, causing your vehicle to pollute the air. However, many other factors can cause the light to turn on, which makes diagnosing the cause tricky.

Tips to keep in mind
• Is your gas cap closed tightly? – This is an extremely common trigger for the Check Engine light in many vehicles. If the cap is not sealed properly, the pressure is not correct, which signals the light to turn on.
• Are you carrying a heavy load? – It is possible for heavy loads combined with high speeds to effect how your car’s computer views the emission control system.
• Do you have OnStar? – If you have a 1997 or later General Motors vehicle equipped with OnStar and an active OnStar subscription, advisors can read the code and give advice on what to do.
• Is a serious problem causing it? – Check your dashboard gauges and lights to see if there are issues such as overheating and low oil pressure. Problems such as these are critical, and indicate that you should pull over and shut off your engine as soon as possible.
• Is your car performing differently? – Your vehicle should be inspected if you notice a change in how your vehicle is running.
• Do not confuse a red Check Engine light with a yellow Service Engine Soon light. This is a warning that indicates your should proceed with caution, and can be caused by anti-lock brake systems, faulty sensors, safety restraint systems, or emission components. These issues typically require an experienced technician to fix.

Are Your Tires Ready For Winter?

With the winter season upon us, it is inevitable we will soon be dealing with colder temperatures, snow, and ice. Properly maintained tires are vital to the safety of your vehicle during the winter months. Your tires are your vehicle’s only contact with the road. Because of this, there are a few precautions you should take before the weather becomes unfavorable.

• All four of your tires should be the same type, size, tread pattern, speed rating, and load index. Differences in these factors can negatively affect a vehicle’s handling and stability.
• Proper inflation and pressure are imperative. Having inadequate tire pressure can cause unnecessary wear, as well as impact your vehicle’s fuel consumption. Keep in mind that as the temperature drops, so does the pressure in your tires. Make it a priority to check your tires’ pressure every few weeks in the winter.
• Have your tires checked for proper alignment and tread. This is something that should be done on a regular basis, but is most crucial to have done in preparation for winter.
• Make sure your tires are in good shape, or get new ones. Tires that are worn, cracked, or out of balance can seriously hinder your ability to drive and control your car. The majority of winter accidents are caused by loss of control of the vehicle on snowy or icy roads.
• Should you decide to get new tires, winter or snow tires are the best bet for those living in regions that have particularly cold and snowy winter months. Snow tires can provide up to 20% better snow traction than all-season tires. With snow tires, you receive the benefits of shorter braking distances as well as more predictable and controllable turning.
• If you choose not to purchase winter/snow tires, be sure to check the tread on your current tires. The next time you do purchase tires, check for deep grooves on the edges of the tires. These types of grooves move both snow and water outwards from underneath your tire, creating better handling and traction year-round.

Synthetic Oil or Conventional Oil?

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No doubt at some point in time you may have heard the ongoing debate about which type of motor oil is best for your motor vehicle. The particular motor oils in question are conventional motor oil and synthetic motor oil. As an owner, or potential owner of a motor vehicle, naturally the topic will interest you. This is because you may have good reason to rethink your current choice in the case of current users, while potential users will know how to proceed. We will briefly explore the subject in an effort to assist with the decision making process.

Functions of Motor Oil

Although the primary function of motor oils is to lubricate all the moving parts of the engine, it carries out a few other functions as well. Motor oils serve to keep the engine cool and provides protection against wear by reducing friction. It also prevents corrosion and keeps the engine free from small pieces of debris.

Conventional Motor Oil

Conventional motor oil has its origins in crude oil, which is pumped from the ground and is processed. A base oil is produced to which additives are added. This changes the properties of the liquid giving it protection properties, improved heat breakdown levels, and viscosity.

Synthetic Motor Oil

Unlike conventional motor oil the base oil of synthetic motor oil comprises artificial or synthesized components, thus its name. Like conventional motor oil however, additives are added to give it properties similar to those of conventional motor oil.

Differences Between Conventional and Synthetic Motor Oil

Although they both carry out the same functions both oils have significant differences in addition to having their pros and cons. Conventional motor oil contains minute amounts of wax, sulfur, and asphaltic material, which are by-products of its manufacturing process. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, because it is chemically produced, has none of these contaminants. Another difference between the two is that synthetic motor oils will flow at much lower temperatures making it preferable in harsh winter conditions. At these same low temperatures conventional motor oil would freeze. Being more consistent in size and shape, the molecules of synthetic motor oils better withstand extreme temperatures; hence it will take longer to break down under extreme heat than conventional motor oils. Synthetic motor oils have very low viscosity ratings and in some cases have been known to flow up to seven times faster than conventional motor oils. This comes in handy at engine start up time, as that is when the most engine wear is likely to occur.

Making Your Choice

In deciding on which motor oil you will be using there are other factors besides those already mentioned, which will have to be taken into account. One of these is the type of car that will be using the motor oil. A high performance racecar owner will obviously choose the synthetic motor oil, as that is the oil they were specifically made to use. Newer cars with smaller clearances will also lean towards synthetic motor oils. The cost of the motor oil will play a significant role in the decision on which oil to use too, as the cost of synthetic motor oil can be as much as four times that of conventional motor oil. If someone changes their car yearly they may say why bother towaste extra money on synthetic oil. The car’s age could also play a part as waxes and sludge build-up by conventional motor oil could mask worn engine seals. These could come to light with the introduction of synthetic motor oils, which tends to break down and clean away those build-ups, thus possibly causing leaks and creating problems.

For all of your oil change needs be sure to visit Car-X.com The debate is by no means over and the points here by no means exhaustive, but it is hoped that they will at least point you in the right direction when the time comes for you to buy motor oils

How to Change a Tire

It is likely at some point in your life you will get a flat tire. Do you know what to do without having to ask for help?

It is important to find a flat, level surface on which to change the tire. This will prevent the car from rolling.
• Your vehicle should be in “Park” and should have the parking brake on.
• Place heavy objects in front of both sets of tires.
• Getting out the jack and spare tire, place the jack under the frame of the car, near the tire you will be changing.
• If your car has plastic along the bottom, as most cars do, make sure the jack is in the correct spot based on your owner’s manual. If it is not in the correct spot, it could crack the plastic.
• Raise the jack to a point where it is supporting, not lifting, the car, ensuring it is firmly in place under the vehicle. It should be at a 90 degree angle to the ground.
• To remove the tire, you first need to take off the hubcap and loosen the nuts with a wrench, turning them counterclockwise. They do not need to be taken off completely, just loosened.
• Depending on the jack, pump or crank the jack to lift the tire up off the ground. While doing this, make sure that the car feels stable and the jack is lifting straight up and not at an angle.
• At this point, remove the nuts entirely. Remove the tire, keeping in mind that it may be stuck because of rust buildup. Hitting the tire with any sort of object (such as the spare tire), should loosen it.
• Aligning the rim of the spare tire with the bolts of the wheel, place the new spare tire on and put the nuts on.
• Tighten the nuts first by hand and then with the wrench once they get tighter.
• Lower the jack, but do not yet put the full weight on the tire. Tighten the nuts as much as possible, then lower the car completely to the ground and remove the jack.
• Ensure the nuts are tightened all the way and replace the hubcap.
• If the tire is not destroyed, take it into a mechanic. Tires with smaller holes can typically be repaired for under $20.
• Always refer to your owner’s manual if there are any questions about where things go.

If your replacement tire doesn’t cut it, see a local auto repair shop and pick up a new one.

For a demonstration, please see the below video.

Fixing Your Old Car vs. Buying a New One

As drivers, there comes that inevitable time in which we are faced with a dilemma: Repair our current car or purchase a new one?

It is at this point in history, coming out of a recession, when we are starting to see more and more used cars on the road.  These drivers have the right idea; all evidence points toward going with a used car, repairing and maintaining it as you go along. The Car Care Council (CCC) and Engine Repower Council (ERC) both highly recommend repairing over buying new.

There is a general rule of thumb stating it is better to fix/repair your current car if it is less than ten years old, or has less than 150,000 miles on it.

Why? New cars can be very expensive, while older cars are mostly or fully paid off.  An argument against sticking with one’s old car is that repairs are expensive. But the fact is even pricier repairs come out to be about the amount of a year’s worth of payments on a new car. Plus, the cost of auto repair has significantly decreased over the past several years, and some shops even offer financing options. Finally, let’s not forget one of the most attractive reasons to choose a used car over a new car: cheaper car insurance.

Some people’s current car is in dire need of replacement. If this sounds like you and your car is in bad shape, it is best to replace it with a newer, but used car. There are several reasons to go this route. Even routine maintenance costs are much higher for new cars as opposed to older cars. Another thing to keep in mind is that today, automobiles are designed to last much longer than in the past, on average 200,000 miles. This means that even if you are purchasing a newer used car, even though it is used you will still get great usage for thousands of miles. Finally, when purchasing a newer used car, it is best to get needed financing through your bank, not the car dealership, because you will incur lower interest rates.

Having a well-maintained used car and a little extra money in your pocket is a great feeling, and a choice that will continue to grow in popularity.

Windshield Wiper Maintenance Tips

 

Being able to drive safely depends upon many factors, including being able to see clearly.  Now that it is back to school time it’s even more critical to be able to see any impending obstructions or hazards.   Fall brings school buses, more cars, children playing, and of course the ever changing weather.

Properly working and maintained windshield wipers are critical to being able to see clearly.

Windshield wipers should be checked every six months or sooner depending upon use and weather conditions.  A good time to replace them is when you change your clocks for day-light saving time; this is also normally the start of bad weather.

You should clean your wipers when you clean your windshield during gas fill ups.  Keeping your windshield clean will make your wipers last longer, and also reduce smearing and streaking.  Wipers can be cleaned with a sponge or soft cloth using washer solvent you are using at the gas station.

When winter comes, so does ice and snow, which both should be scraped from your windshield with an ice scraper not the wipers.  Then warm up the windshield using the defroster which will make the wipers job much easier.

 

Happy Motoring from Mark the Car-X Car Doctor!

Easy Transmission Maintenance

Transmission repair is one of the most costly and time-consuming car repairs. The transmission is what allows the automotive to move and shift gears. However, there are preventative steps you can take to minimize transmission problems. Car-x offers a free visual inspection of your system. Take advantage of the offer because it will save you money and time in the long run!

Extending the life of your transmission is easy! The MOST important thing to do is to keep your transmission fluid clean and to never let your fluid levels get low. Metal from gears and extreme heat generated by the transmission will contaminate transmission fluids over time and can lead to costly repairs. It’s essential to not only replace your fluid but your filter because it helps to keep your transmission fluid clean. Additionally, low fluid levels can lead to serious damage to your transmission.

So always keep your transmission fluids clean and full. Make sure you don’t have any leaks and that your filter is clean. Stop by Car-X today for your free visual inspection, and keep your transmission running smoothly!

To Change My Oil or Not?

Frequent oil changes, free inspections and regular changes to your oil filters will save you money in the long run! In order to get the best gas mileage out of your car and prevent problems before they arise, we highly recommended that you change your oil and get a free inspection at Car-X every 3 months or 3,000 miles. If you put off oil changes, it can lead to engine damage. The free inspection also helps you spot small car problems before they turn into bigger more expensive problems. One of the most common mistakes drivers make is postponing their oil changes.
In addition to regular oil changes, it’s highly recommended that you change your oil filter frequently. The oil filter protections your engine from abrasive particles such as dirt and other solid contaminants. If you wait too long to change the filter it can become clogged, and then as a result unfiltered oil will be circulated through your engine and can cause easily prevented corrosion or damage to your engine. To find out just how often you should change your oil filter, make sure you consult with our well-trained Car-X employees during your next oil change and free inspection!
During your regular oil change we offer a FREE inspection of the following:
Fuel , oil and air filters
Tire pressure and wear
Leaks
Electrical system- alternator, battery, ignition and starter
Cable connections
Alternator drive’s belt
Headlights and other exterior lights
Windshield wipers
 Other problems
 ALSO ASK ABOUT a FREE inspection of your braking system and free tire rotation

Essential Expert Brake Service

Being able to stop quickly and smoothly is essential in a car. Quality breaks that function in top condition are fundamental to a driver’s safety. That’s why Car-X takes the matter seriously and offers free, no obligation brake system inspections, and doesn’t even require appointments! With our offer, you should never neglect your break system again.

Car-X has offered tested, top of the line, affordable breaks for over 30 years! We offer only the best products and well-trained technicians for your service. Trust in our years of experience, because we will make high quality breaks and safety top priority.

Car-X is so confident in the quality of products and service that we even offer a lifetime guarantee on brake pads and break shoes for as long as you own your car. Key components in the breaking systems, shoes and pads provide the majority of the stopping power by creating friction, absorbing heat and energy. Every time the pedal is pressed to stop the car, the shoes and pads bare the brunt of stress and wear. However the lifetime guarantee allows for easy maintenance so that you can stop worrying about saving money to fix the natural wear on your break pads or shoes.

Your Teen Behind the Wheel

Teenagers are dangerous enough when they’re on solid ground. Imagine what kind of havoc they can wreak at 45 mph! To calm your (and their) nerves, follow these tips on how to prepare your teen for his summer driving.

The freedom of the open road is exciting, but sometimes it can lead to reckless driving, especially among teens. Vehicle accidents are unfortunately the number one cause of death among teenagers. With this in mind, it is important to learn how you can prepare your teenager and his or her vehicle for a safe summer.

  1. Make sure the driver and all passengers wear seatbelts. In most states, law requires seat belt usage because of its effectiveness.
  2. Check the status of the car battery. If it is an older car, it might require a battery repair or an entirely new one. It is also a good idea to supply your teenager with a set of batter cables and proper instruction on how to jump-start a car.
  3. While it may sound insignificant, the quality of the vehicle’s windshield wipers is crucial to safe driving. Ask anyone who has dealt with faulty wipers during a storm- or even a sprinkle. Having a blurred vision is a hazard to the driver’s safety, as well as to others on the road.
  4. Make sure your teen is aware of the dangers that come from texting while driving. While he or she may feel invincible, the reality is that driving is a privilege that requires full attention. Losing focus can result in a horrible, even fatal, accident. Even talking on the phone can often be a major distraction, and in some states it is illegal for minors to do so behind the wheel. If you are concerned with not being able to communicate to your teen while he is in transit, consider setting this rule: if someone calls once, let it go to voicemail. If someone calls twice in a row, code for “important,” find a place to pull the vehicle over and return the call.

Whether it’s a drive across town to his summer job or a road trip across the state to visit friends, your teen’s experience behind the wheel should be taken seriously, and with absolute caution. A confident driver is a steadier driver, so give him the freedom he desires and the rules he needs to have a fun, safe summer.